Sixth-seeded Aztecs Head to Lone Star State for 2008 MWC Championships

April 23, 2008


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* The 60th-ranked San Diego State men's tennis team embarks on its quest for the Mountain West Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament this week when it travels to Fort Worth, Texas, for the 2008 MWC Championships, April 24-26, at the Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center on the campus of TCU. The Aztecs (12-11, 1-5 MWC) received the tournament's sixth seed and will square off against No. 3 seed Utah in a quarterfinal clash on Thursday beginning at 10 a.m. CDT. A live scoring link will be available on the front page of

If SDSU prevails, it will face the winner of the Air Force-New Mexico showdown on Friday with another 10 a.m. starting time. The Aztecs will be looking to exact a measure of revenge against the No. 64 Utes, who sent the Scarlet and Black spiraling into a five-match losing streak with a 5-2 decision on April 5 in Albuquerque, N.M.

* SDSU sports a 10-6 all-time record in the MWC Championships, capturing titles in 2002, 2003 and 2005, while posting runner-up finishes in 2000, 2004 and 2006. The Aztecs will be making just their second-ever appearance in the MWC quarterfnal round after finishing the 2008 campaign in sixth place with a disappointing 1-5 mark in league play. In 2004, SDSU posted a 2-2 record in the regular season and faced Air Force in the first round of the MWC tournament. The Aztecs shut out the Falcons (4-0) and downed UNLV (4-2) in the semifinals before losing a 4-3 heartbreaker to New Mexico in the championship match.

* Utah (13-10, 5-1 MWC), ranked 64th in the latest ITA team poll, claimed a share of the MWC regular-season title along with TCU and New Mexico after all three schools finished atop the league standings with a 5-1 record. However, the Horned Frogs captured the tournament's top seed by virtue of their No. 36 ranking as of April 15, while the Lobos grabbed the second spot by way of their 4-3 victory over the Utes on April 4.

Individually, Utah is led by Zach Ganger, who has won his last eight singles encounters to raise his record to 26-8 overall, including a 16-5 mark in dual matches at the No.1 position. For his efforts, the Ute senior has earned a No. 116 ranking in the latest ITA singles poll. Utah also boasts a 20-match winner in junior Wes Hancock (20-10), who has seen the majority of action this spring at the No. 4 spot. Meanwhile in doubles competition, Ganger has also been the workhorse for the Utes, posting a 23-6 overall record with three different partners. Ganger and fellow classmate Miron Mann have entrenched themselves at the top of Utah's doubles order lately and will looking to extend their seven-match winning streak when they face SDSU on Thursday.

* The Utes won for the first time in eight meetings between the two schools after handing the Aztecs a 5-2 setback on April 5 in Albuquerque, N.M. With the score tied at 2-2, SDSU was poised for the victory after building one-set leads in the final three singles encounters of the day. However, Utah managed to wiggle off the hook in all three of those contests to pull off the dramatic win. The defeat snapped the Aztecs' 18-match regular-season Mountain West Conference winning streak and evened the series between the two teams at 12-12 dating back to 1989.

SDSU and Utah have met on two previous occasions in the MWC tournament, with the Aztecs taking both matches by a 4-0 count in 2002 and 2006.

* No. 44 New Mexico (18-7, 5-1 MWC) was on a roll recently, winning 11 straight until TCU ended the streak after claiming a 4-3 nail-biter on April 12 in Provo, Utah, which cost the Lobos the outright MWC regular-season title.

Senior Max Jones occupies the top of Nex Mexico's singles ladder, earning a No. 69 ranking in the latest ITA singles poll on the strength of a 17-11 overall record. The Lobos also boast a solid 2-3 combination of juniors Johnny Parkes (19-11) and Graeme Kassautzki (20-9). Meanwhile, Jones and fellow senior Kami Pajkowski have anchored UNM's doubles rotation this season, winning 10 of their last 12 en route to an impressive 25-6 record.

* The Lobos ended a three-match losing streak to the Aztecs after prevailing by a 5-2 count in Albuquerque on April 6. SDSU held a 1-0 lead after capturing the early doubles point; however, UNM roared back with five victories in six singles contests to pull away for the win. As in the Utah match the day before, the Aztecs had their chances, but were unable to close out two Lobo opponents after building an early one-set advantage. With the loss, the series now stands at 14-11 in favor of the Scarlet and Black dating back to 1989.

* Air Force (10-14, 0-6 MWC) has fallen on hard times recently, dropping all six of its league matches this season by a combined score of 42-0. The Falcons, who have been idle since April 6, last tasted victory on March 22 with a 6-1 triumph at home over UMKC in their final non-conference dual of the 2008 campaign.

Sophomore Brett Rodgers has been Air Force's top winner this season with 14 overall singles victories, playing primarily at the No. 1 position. Rounding out the top half of the Falcons' singles ladder is fellow classmate Austin Francis, who has seen the bulk of the action this year in the No. 2 spot, while freshman Taylor Soster has played 10 straight matches at No. 3.

* The Aztecs opened MWC play this season with a 7-0 whitewash of the Falcons on April 4 in Albuquerque. SDSU swept doubles competition and lost only eight games in capturing all six singles encounters en route to the convincing win. With the victory, the Scarlet and Black extended its winning streak against Air Force to 21 straight matches dating back to 1989.

* After losing four seniors off its 2007 roster, including MWC player of the year Markus Dickhardt and all-MWC performer Christian Groh, San Diego State has taken on a decidedly youthful appearance this season. The Aztecs possess just one junior on this year's squad to go along with five sophomores and four freshmen (one redshirt). With all the changes, sophomores Achim Ceban and Juan Gomez are the only two SDSU holdovers heading to Texas this week with playing experience at the MWC tournament.

* Freshmen Andre Feliz has enjoyed a tremendous rookie campaign in 2008, leading the Scarlet and Black with 15 overall singles victories, including 13 in dual matches. Despite missing the final five matches of the regular season with an illness, fellow classmate Danny Heidecker has also been impressive, winning seven in a row from March 13-April 4 to raise his overall record to 14-6 and 12-4 in duals. Another freshman, Tim Schulz van Endert, has been a solid contributor in doubles action, posting 10-4 record this spring while playing alongside Achim Ceban. Meanwhile, sophomore Jordan Colman was triumphant in his first-ever Division I singles match on March 7, when he knocked off Idaho's Andrew Hobbs, 6-3, 6-3. The transfer from Cabrillo College has also won his last three doubles matches at the No. 3 spot, teaming with Ceban and Schulz van Endert.

* After playing the first third of the season primarily in the No. 4 position, sophomore Matan Shitrit has become entrenched at the top of the Aztecs' singles ladder, alternating between the first two spots after defeating Stanislav Glukhov of Idaho at No. 2 on March 7. Since that match, Shitrit owns a 9-6 record, including a 7-1 mark in the second slot.

* Gene Carswell is in his 10th season at San Diego State and fifth as head coach of the Scarlet and Black. In his five seasons at the helm, the Aztecs' mentor has compiled an overall record of 71-42 (.628), while guiding SDSU to three straight Mountain West Conference regular-season titles from 2005-2007. During that stretch, the native San Diegan led the Aztecs to a 17-0 league mark en route to earning three consecutive MWC coach of the year accolades. Prior to his present duties, Carswell was an Aztec assistant for five years from 1998-2003, earning a pair of ITA regional assistant coach of the year honors in 2001 and 2003.

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